June 18, 2012

Painted Butterflies: Mixing Secondary Colors

Painted Butterflies: Mixing Secondary Colors

Would you believe this colorful spring butterfly was created by a toddler using only paint and a plastic bag?  Read on! 

To make three colorful butterflies, we needed three plastic zipper-locked sandwich bags, three pieces of card stock cut into a butterfly shape, and three bottles of tempera paint: red, yellow, blue (the primary colors).


  • To cut the paper butterflies, I folded a 4" square of white card stock in half and cut out a butterfly shape. Then I made sure it fit into the plastic bag.  

  • I placed 3 tablespoons of yellow paint and 1 tablespoon of blue paint into a sandwich bag.  Then I slipped a paper butterfly in. I flatten the bag to let the air escape, zipped it shut, and handed it to Calvin.

  • He squeezed, folded, and smooshed the bag.  All the while he was mixing the yellow and blue paint to create a green butterfly.

  • I repeated the same procedure with a new bag and a new butterfly, but this time I put 3 tablespoons of yellow and 1 tablespoon of red paint into the bag.  Once again Calvin mixed the paint in the bag and painted the second butterfly orange.


  • We repeated the procedure one last time. I put 3 tablespoons of red and 1 tablespoon of blue paint into the bag, and Calvin painted a purple butterfly.

  • When Calvin was finished painting, I removed each butterfly from it's bag and placed it on newspaper to dry.  We ended with three painted butterflies, each a different secondary color. I strung the three butterflies along with three of our Spin Art Coasters on a long piece of yarn to make a colorful mobile. 


Calvin gave the mobile to his Daddy for Father's Day.

"Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful Dads out there!"

Extend the Activity:

  • In My Flower by Sara Gillingham is a cute board book with a finger puppet.

(click for Amazon.com)

  • Melissa and Doug Fluttering Butterflies Gear Toy is a color matching gear puzzle.

(click for Amazon.com)

Do you have a comment or suggestion?  I'd love to hear from you.

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